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Has the fear of failure ever caused you to quit things in life before you could fail? Do you live in fear of even trying? Is God calling you to step out of the boat but the waves seem so high that they seem to blind you to the hand He is holding out to you? We hear that we should have faith over fear and it makes a wonderful devotional but fear is not always a choice. Sometimes it is the result of very real trauma.
I know this trauma myself. It is the kind that cruel words can create in a young person that they begin to carry with them well into adulthood. It caused me to quit everything! I was so afraid of failing that I would end up quitting before I could actually fail at something. After all, then it was on MY terms!
Well, with the Lord’s help I started to learn to fight that fear and you too can learn how to start defeating fear in life and start living in victory! Read on to learn more!
I Quit Everything – “You’re a Failure!”
I literally would just quit everything in different areas of life that I had started!
I would take the first step and begin projects or businesses or even relationships only, later on, to give up on them. I would just abandon them while still very much in progress and, sometimes, even when they were thriving!
I never seemed to ever finish ANYTHING and I could never understand why that was the case.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. In fact, in most cases, I loved what I was doing. But no matter how much enjoyment a project gave me, it would eventually get filed in the archives with every other project I had ever started!
Why? Why could I not ever seem to complete anything?
Some people may have looked at someone like me the wrong way and thought they are lazy. Maybe they are flaky, maybe unmotivated, maybe selfish.
But it is not any of those things. It is something far deeper; something far more hurtful.
When I was twenty-four years old, I heard words spoken over the phone that would stay with me for decades.
The words cut like a knife and caused scars just as deep as if they came from one. They were words spoken by a very close family member.
There were some people at the house that day to do a job in the yard. This family member called me on the phone and asked me to try to catch the workers when they were on their way out and ask them to give him a call. This was WAY before cell phones were a thing!
My daughter, who was four years old at the time, was playing in her room and, shortly after I hung up the phone, she began crying. So of course I got up and ran in to see what had happened.
I was doing what any mother would do.
While I was in her room comforting her, the workers had left. It was only a few minutes but I had missed them.
So then I immediately called this relative on the phone to tell them I was sorry but my daughter fell and I had to go help her. And that is when he said the words…
“You’re a failure. You always were a failure, you’ll always be a failure”
How to Overcome Fear in Life – Realize Words Can Weigh On You Like Stones If You Let Them
Words like those hurt no matter who they come from. But the pain is deeper when it comes from someone that is supposed to love you. I wish I could say this was the first time words like these came from this person but it wasn’t. But these hurt more than all the others. The weight of these words can be heavy and they can last a long time; sometimes even forever.
And it was those words that would start a cycle that would culminate in me never finishing things in my life.
I’m a failure.
It started to seep into the core of who I was; a failure. I believed it. After all, it came from someone close to me, someone I trusted. Every day I put on those words like a weight around my neck.
It wasn’t just those words in and of themselves, but the cutting remarks that came from this person before this incident and then ones that would come from this person and others from that point onward.
Once you allow someone to make you feel that way about yourself, it sometimes becomes easier for you to allow others to make you believe similar things because your feelings of worth have been eroded.
However, the words ‘you’re a failure’ were by far the most damaging because they summed up everything this person would ever make me believe about myself over the years. At this time, I did not know Jesus so I didn’t have the Word of God and the love of Jesus to fill me with the good things about myself as being made in His image.
I felt, without realizing it, that if I just quit something, if I just walk away from it, then I can’t fail at it. If I give up BEFORE I can fail, then this person can’t be proved right.
It was on MY terms. It was MY choice. At least that is what I believed.
I was actually living with a fear of man that was making me live this self-fulfilling prophecy.
I believed I was in charge by quitting. Therefore, it wasn’t a failure if I just made my own decision to quit in the first place!
These words didn’t just make me feel like a failure, they created this intense fear that I lived with every day!
I had to learn to overcome that fear in my life or I would prove him to be right!
Spiritual Warfare – The Enemy Tries to Keep Us From Finding God
What I didn’t realize was, in my attempt to protect myself from his words, to protect myself from this “prophecy” he had spoken over my life (you’ll ALWAYS be a failure), I WAS indeed proving him right.
I WAS failing. It was just that I was choosing it rather than letting it choose me. Every time I had given up on something was a time I failed.
I had let him win by giving up out of FEAR!
False Evidence Appearing Real
We all know this acronym for FEAR. It is truly accurate.
What I was facing were these words; nothing more than words. I was giving mere human words the power to hurt me, but worse than that was I was giving them the ability to mold me into someone God never intended me to be.
These words, these lies, carry weight only when you give them more faith than what God’s Word says!
God’s Word should always replace the words of cruel people! God’s Word should always be above what ANYONE says to you!
But I hadn’t learned that yet at that point!
You see, I had actually succeeded in life up until that point. I had always been a good student. I had friends, a beautiful daughter and I had a business that I was working from home at the time that was successful.
It was a lie!I was giving mere human words the power to hurt me, but worse than that was I was giving them the ability to mold me into someone God never intended me to be. Click To Tweet
I HADN’T always been a failure! But that lie was about to grow to the truth.
After about a year of building a successful business, I quit.
I started college, I quit.
I was married, I quit.
I was fearing failure where I had not even experienced it just because this person labeled me!!
Now to clarify again, I was not saved yet at the time. That would come later. But I firmly believe the enemy was setting me up to fail at even that way before it happened!
He was trying to keep me so weighed down in my own fear and my own running away from everything in everyday life, including the good news of the Gospel, that I would miss God altogether.
Overcoming My Own Fears of Failure and Rejection
But I didn’t. I did find the Lord. I always knew who God was but I never knew exactly who Jesus was for me! Thanks to my sister I found Him.
After I was saved I thought I would have the victory! I thought this would all change and that my faith in God would be enough for me to be able to finish what I start! I would finally not feel like a failure because God says…
Who I am in Jesus
But that wasn’t the case! Bible verses weren’t going to be enough to fight this fear and the enemy knew it. He knows scripture! He kept me blinded to what I really needed,
I was still giving more weight to what people said! And that affected my faith and it affected what I thought God must have felt about me too.
I began to feel unaccepted even by God. In other words, I felt like somehow I had slipped under some spiritual VIP rope and snuck in but wasn’t truly supposed to be there. I felt as though somehow I got God on a technicality but wasn’t really wanted even by Him.
I feared failure even at my salvation, even though my salvation had nothing to do with me! The enemy had me convinced my salvation, Yeshua’s love for me, was based on my own merits and not on His love for me. He made me feel God’s presence and God’s love was for others. He had me believing the children of God were those who looked a certain way and talked a certain way and I didn’t fit that mold.I began to feel unaccepted even by God. In other words, I felt like somehow I had slipped under some spiritual VIP rope and snuck in but wasn’t truly supposed to be there. I felt as though somehow I got God on a technicality but… Click To Tweet
Giving in to a Spirit of Fear – Even Including my Faith!
So I fell away from my relationship with God. I backslid somewhat. I couldn’t even accept that even HE could love me.
Now, I didn’t truly quit this time. Deep down I still had my faith in Jesus . I never walked away from that. But I lacked the relationship.
I wouldn’t go to God. I felt like I wasn’t worthy to. My belief in Him was there but I didn’t walk in it. I felt like an outsider.
Unwanted. Unaccepted. Uninvited. Because that was how this person had made me feel.
I felt like if this family member had this opinion of me, this person who was supposed to care for me, maybe God felt the same way about me. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough for anyone!
He saw my mess. He saw my fear. And He saw my loneliness.
Oh, and there was loneliness. I didn’t even feel my Christian sisters wanted to know me.
I still go through that today at times, like somehow they will see I snuck in! So I kept everyone at a distance and only built surface friendships. I tried to be everything to everyone so that people wouldn’t see the failure this person said I was.
So that I would be liked. So that I would be accepted.
But God is bigger than our failures, He is bigger than our mistakes and He is bigger than the lies the enemy tells (sometimes through the mouths of people who are supposed to show us love) and He breaks through those walls we put up. And He can break through your walls too!
How to Have Faith Over Fear
I wish I could sit here and write to you and tell you I had this amazing victory overnight and overcame fear and failure completely, but I didn’t.
I still struggle to believe what God believes about me and it is a daily exercise in the Word to keep reminding myself of who He says I am.
It is a daily battle I go through with the enemy who says:
“You can’t be a Bible teacher…you’re not smart enough.”
“You can’t get your Graduate Degree in Seminary. You’re too old.”
“You’re a Jew who believes in Yeshua. No one thinks your teachings have any value for them.”
“What does fear mean for a believer? It means you don’t even follow the Word. Where are the weapons of faith weak one?”
And countless more….
THEY ARE ALL LIES!
He wants me to think that way so I will QUIT! He wants me to think that way so that I never live in the victory Jesus died to give me!
God is working in me to turn around the lies that someone spoke over me but I am not 100% there yet. I am FAR from where I was, but I am not there yet.
I am not perfect but I am not a failure either!
I don’t blog to tell you how perfect my life is. Blogging is so I can share my struggles, my pain, my reality! I do this because I hope to be able to show even one person they are not alone!
Being a believer and being a blogger doesn’t mean we have our stuff together. We just share our messes! It means we lean even more on a God who can fix our messes and, in time, help us to see ourselves the way He sees us, not the way the world sees us.
Learning how to overcome fear in life, especially the fear of failure, starts with replacing those old recordings with God’s Word!
I am not a failure! I may fail AT things but that is ok! That is how we improve! That is how we learn and grow! But I am not a failure!
I am not a quitter! Unless God tells me it is time to let go of something, I keep at it! Believe me, I have been tempted more than a few times to quit blogging! The enemy comes in with that comparison game!
And yeah, I might have a moment! I might have a day! But I pray and ask God…do YOU want me to stop? And if I don’t get a yes, I keep going.
I am NOT a quitter!
And grace by grace, God is helping me believe that!
What are some ways you have learned to overcome fear in life with God’s Word? Share in the comments!
And be sure to get your FREE Prayers and Scriptures for Effective Spiritual Warfare Workbook below as my gift to you!
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.